Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Adventures: Road Trip, Baby!

Maggie and Nigel endured their second cross country road trip together.  We drove our new Prius V from LA to Chicago (totally enough room for two dogs on the back seat, their beds and crate pads, blankets AND we stuffed a bunch of our things between their seat and our seats).  Since they have raw food diets, we had our giant Coleman cooler all packed up in the back of the car with enough food for the road trip and beyond.
Maggie and Nigel LOVE beds on top of things. 
Check out my bed!  I don't really like it at night but it's awesome in the car.
We used our new Kurgo bench seat cover to keep doggie hairs off the seat and it stayed on very well.
Maggie pillows make the best pillows.
 It was clear, though, that the dogs got a little stir crazy as the trip continued.
WE'RE NOT THERE YET!?!?!??!
When we stopped at a random rest area in Oklahoma, we were SO stoked to see that there was a dog park there!!  WHAT!??!  THANK GOODNESS!  Since Maggie is still reactive, we were very happy to see that we were the only crazy dog owners out there in 25 degree weather.
PARTY!!!
Please excuse Nigel's junk hanging out but I just loved this action shot.  He looks so happy!!
 In all reality, the pooches spent most of their time doing this:
Cuddle buddies
And only a little time looking crazy...like this:
We're not sure why, but Maggie has picked up an incredibly annoying whining habit when we're in the car.  She didn't do it for the entire ride but she did it plenty.  Please excuse the terrible recording of this but you can watch and see why we both laugh hysterically at her while we ask her to be "quiet."
video
So, now we've made it to Chicago and we're trying to be good house guests.  Stay tuned for all the things we've learned about road tripping with dogs that we wish someone had told us!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pooches: Reactive Dog Goes to School (Part 2!)

I just can't express how thankful I am to have found LARPBO (Los Angeles Responsible Pit Bull Owners) because these people will truly save us with our pooches!!  Without finding them, Maggie and Nigel may have gotten some basic obedience but they will go much, much farther with this group than we would have without their support and patience.  (Did I mention that LARPBO has a new Meetup!?  One in San Bernardino!!!)

Anyway, Maggie went to her second LARPBO training class today, this time in Long Beach.  It was awesome for us because it was a smaller class and because one of the wonderful LARPBO trainers, Griffin, decided to come and work with us for the entire class (THANKS, GRIFFIN!!).  LARPBO classes are about 2 hours long and only cost $10 (a suggested donation) so it's basically like the most amazing training class you can ever find.
Hmmm...which dog do I bark at first!?
I had brought Nigel's Freedom Harness to try on Maggie but Griffin came over and suggested we try the flat collar and leash for a while.  For the next 2 hours or so, with only small breaks, Griffin worked Maggie with what LARPBO calls "railroad" exercises.  Essentially, Griffin walked forward with Maggie while trying to keep her attention and then backwards while asking her to "come" over and over again.  The goal is to get Maggie focusing her attention on her handler and to not freak out about the other dogs that were anywhere from 6-30 feet away from her.
Seriously though, WHAT are you putting your treats!?
WOW!  Once we figured out which of the 4 treats we had between the two of us that Maggie LOOOOVED, (Natural Balance Lamb and Rice cut up in treat size bites i.e. "puppy crack") all of a sudden, she was laser focused on Griffin. By the end of the class, he was able to walk her into the crowd of dogs for a few seconds and then back out without any kind of reaction.
Look, mom!!  I'm with other doggies ON LEASH!!!
LARPBO works on getting the dog's focus on the handler so that instead of forcing dogs to make the right decisions ALL the time, the dogs look to their handler for cues.  It's been wonderful after only two classes and Maggie is learning to focus more around other dogs.

Essentially, as leash reactive dog owners, this was the BEST kind of day EVER!  Maggie still had a few reactions but now that we're learning to help her redirect her attention to us, it's already getting better.  It was definitely a breakthrough day and it was SO nice to have some hope for our future when Maggie can be around other dogs without freaking out all the time.

We hope everyone had LOVELY weekends!!!

What was your best breakthrough moment with your pooch?!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pooches: Sleepy Time Rituals

Sorry about the lack of posting...we had a car accident in the family (everyone is fine, thank goodness!) but that meant that all extra Internet time was spent searching for cars.  We're still deciding on a new or new to us car to look for this weekend.  Suggestions (especially ones that are hybrids AND good with pooches) welcome!

We have had a break through!  The pooches are no longer crated at night which makes us very happy since they are in their crates for a good chunk of time four days each week.

We were crating them at night for the last two and a half months because they were still getting used to one another and they were very pushy at night when left out of their crates.  They also liked to flop around, scratch their ears very noisily and disrupt our sleep in general.
Nigel actually prefers beds on beds.
In only took about a week and a half but we have taught them to sleep on our bedroom floor in their own poochy beds.

We used tie downs (and collars that didn't have tags on them to help the pooches not jingle all night) to get them used to their own space on the floor.  Maggie is pretty smart and got the idea very quickly.  She started sleeping in her bed right next to our bed almost immediately.  Nigel took a little extra time to get the hang of sleeping on the floor in his bed and NOT in our bed.  He seems to favor our bed quite a bit (I can't blame him, we're cuddly).  I'm pretty sure we said "Go to bed" about sixty times in the last week and a half, sometimes at 3:30am, but it finally worked.

He seems to be only very mildly attached to his bed but really not that into it.  I wonder if maybe he would like a nice one with fluffy sides like Maggie has.  His bed is more flat.

Where do your pooches sleep?  Did it take a while to teach them to sleep there?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pooches: Chew Gear (Why We Heart Antlers)

We stopped giving Maggie squeaky toys a while ago because she has a very intense prey drive (she almost ripped off my arm this morning when we saw a squirrel three feet away).

We discovered antlers after reading horror stories of doggies eating chunks of Nylabones and then needing surgery.  Maggie definitely used to be a power chewer, ripping through any toy we gave her.  We stopped giving her fluffy toys and squeaky toys because they got her so amped up when she played with them.

We lurrrrve our antlers!


They sell antlers at the Petco right near our house and Maggie LOVED her first one!  Then, I turned to the net to purchase multiple antlers and found these from PetExpertise.com.  They are AMAAAAZING.  They're pricey but if you have strong chewers like our little monsters adorable pitties.  And, if you buy 5, 10 or more, you get discounts!  SCORE!

Fun trivia fact...what bully sticks really are!  (Don't read if you're a little squeamish.)


What is your doggie's favorite chew toy?!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Pooches: Reactive Dog Goes to School

Maggie went to LARPBO's group training class for the first time this past Saturday.  I was surprised because she didn't start to freak out right off the bat!  There were about 30 dogs there so normally, this would be Maggie freak out heaven.

I don't have a ton of pictures from the day because I was busy keeping my arm attached to my body trying to keep Maggie's attention on me.  She did really well and even managed to do some good listening while she kept her eyes on all the dogs.

A LARPBO member got these fantastic pictures of Maggie's heart marking.
Thanks for the pictures, Ayumi!!
I wear my heart on my coat.
She really did great considering how she used to flip out at any sign of another dog nearby.  The best part was she was exhausted for the rest of the day.  Look at that tongue!
She was really hyped up for the rest of the day and the next morning but then she started calming down again.  On our walk today, she was calm and collected and only whined a little when we passed 1 of 8 dogs on our morning walk.  Definitely an improvement and drastic difference from October!  I think the combination of going to socialize and the LARPBO class may be doing wonders for her tolerance of other dogs.

Everyone at the class was SO friendly and understanding about Maggie's reactivity.  She was one of a few reactive dogs there and wore a yellow ribbon on her leash so everyone knew that we needed some space.  We're taking this week off because I'm out of town but we'll be making LARPBO classes a permanent part of our weekend routine.

There are some people at LARPBO who use e-collars for training (not for punishment purposes) but we're wondering if any readers have used e-collars for training.  Can't wait to be able to update everyone more on Maggie's progress!!!